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Tag Archives: Renewable energy

Green Business Ideas – Solar Power to make Construction Cheaper.


As the World in this March was introduced to the SREX report on Climate Change by the IPCC. The importance of civilization switching itself from fossil fuel to cleaner source of energy cannot be underscored, should it want to survive.

However to really see a boost in this sector there needs to be innovation and active participation from all stake-holders.

While there has been some traction in the effort to harness Renewable Energy in India for some time under the National Action Plan for Climate Change. With the various Missions like

  • National Solar Mission: The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes:
  • Specific goals for increasing use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments;
  • A goal of increasing production of photovoltaics to 1000 MW/year; and
  • A goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation.
    Other objectives include the establishment of a solar research center, increased international collaboration on technology development, strengthening of domestic manufacturing capacity, and increased government funding and international support.
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. Building on the Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends:
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for:
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.
  • National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
  • National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling and increased international collaboration.  It also encourage private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

While for a follower of Energy articles, the immediate focus would be with the Missions that are directly related to the industry, it is important for all to understand the reason behind all the missions. For they are inter-related in some ways or the other.

For example, with an understanding on the Strategic Knowledge for Climate; the RE sector entrepreneurs would have an understanding of the exact solutions which would not only benefit the planet but also give the right boost to the industry.

Likewise if we wish to retain the Himalayan Ecosystem, which is a source for perennial Water, the latter mission also gets addressed. So would be able to retain a forest cover while building a Sustainable Habitat if we look towards innovations which could capture the essence of the Missions as a whole.

The NAPCC further states, the following and this is where the present Green Business Idea takes off –

Other Programs

The NAPCC also describes other ongoing initiatives, including: 

  • Power Generation: The government is mandating the retirement of inefficient coal-fired power plants and supporting the research and development of IGCC and supercritical technologies.
  • Renewable Energy: Under the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, the central and the state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid-based power from renewable sources.
  • Energy Efficiency: Under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, large energy-consuming industries are required to undertake energy audits and an energy labeling program for appliances has been introduced.

Implementation

Ministries with lead responsibility for each of the missions are directed to develop objectives, implementation strategies, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation criteria, to be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The Council will also be responsible for periodically reviewing and reporting on each mission’s progress. To be able to quantify progress, appropriate indicators and methodologies will be developed to assess both avoided emissions and adaptation benefits.

One such innovation is Solar for the Construction Industry.

Let’s understand how the Building & Construction Sector works. While they have not been given the sectorial stamp of the Infrastructure Industry, by the Government in all it’s wisdom. (And perhaps thereby allowing vested interests to continue wanton destruction of the Eco-system; which to an extent would have perhaps be negated with being associated as infrastructure industry which bear more scrutiny.) That the workings are more or less the same can’t be denied.

So while one builds residential & commercial complexes, there is a need for continuous and reliable source of power. If one is building within the city limits of some Indian megalopolis, “temporary power” as construction power is often termed, is availed by the builder/developer at a price higher than what the DISCOMS would provide to its consumers.

In some cities it is ₹14/- per KW. And in places where they need to depend on DG-set, the operating cost with diesel and its maintenance may shoot the cost anywhere between ₹16 – ₹22. The more remote the location the more use of DG. And this shoots up the cost of construction.

The additional burden is naturally passed on to the consumer. In most cases the average middle-class home/shop buyer. And if the market is not promising enough, some developers to keep the retail price within acceptable limits compromise on the quality of built space.

And it is precisely here that the Solar Industry can play a crucial role.

To those who are familiar with construction, they would understand that one of the main draw of energy comes from the Tower Crane and the Batching Plant. As much as 250KVA can be attributed to them which in large construction sites work day and night.

Should this be replaced by Solar Power during day-time use, either in-situ if there is space for it or via wheeling. A quantum jump in the requirement of Solar PV would give the right boost to the industry.

SOLAR PARK

The Solar power can be provided in two ways. First and the easiest would be to through Wheeling. Wheeling is the term used for getting an open access to the already established Grid power line and by evacuating the generated power, through a 33/11 KVA transformer as would be the case, from the plot of land where the Solar Park can be established.

Some states have a free-wheeling policy and it is here that one must focus in growing this form of business.

A solar EPC can approach investors or even a builder/developer group and ask them to invest to put up a park which would help them achieve perennial source of Solar power, at a discounted rate. This would help reduce the CAPEX on the project. While how much of the benefit would be passed on to the end-user would be a subject of consultation, unless that becomes a clause by the Government, committed to its social obligation.

WAREHOUSE

The in-situ option is more for larger construction companies such as L&T –Constructions, Punj Lloyd Group, GVK group, GMR group etcetera. Who take up infrastructure projects in remote locations. Where even the Grid Power lines at times not found going over-head. Here the project can be operationalized in smaller time-frame should the portable-cabins, ware-houses and worker quarters have in-built Solar panels, which can then feed a minimum power to start work faster, without depending on the large diesel generators.

And to make it a success innovation and collaboration both is required. The innovation is already explained. The collaboration which is required is that with a design firm which understands both Renewable Energy and Architecture, to create the space where normally there would be none found. Also in the case of infrastructure projects, the SPV have to be designed in a CKD format for easier transport and installation. Further, in this the orientation and latitude also plays a great part which needs to be adjustable every-time.

That this idea has already been tested and found approval is from the fact that the article is being written about it, if I may say so.

For any Sustainable Design Architects; they would find this as one of the primary drivers to attain the goal as envisaged in the National Action Plan on Sustainable Habitat. While at the same time carry the nascent industry of Solar, which needs all the care and support in this Sun blessed country.

 

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Renewable Power versus Powerful….


If the Nation and the rest of the World wants to come out of the slump of slow economy. It really needs to heed the thoughts of WBSCD and CIICESD at home.

Assessing the Investment Climate for Climate Investments in South Asia

  • As demand for energy grows in South Asia, so do greenhouse gas emissions, which have been rising at about 3.3% per year in the region since 1990.
  • A new World Bank study evaluates the environment for private sector investment in climate mitigation or low-carbon technologies.
  • The study finds that the impact of government frameworks on clean energy investments has been mixed, and there is considerable variation in the approach to low-carbon and clean energy investments.

Recently the Indian  Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, was in Mumbai to launch the Solar Mini-Grids for Rural Electrification, a road map to 100% Energy access for India by its 75th Independence anniversary.  The research work is a stellar task by Ms. Shruti Mahajan Deorah & Ms. Leena Chandran – Wadia both fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

While it is true that the amount of energy we need can not come from the roof-tops, another research paper launched at the same meet was the Mumbai Solar Mission, which talks out using every usable roof-top in Mumbai to power the city. A paper compiled by Rishi Aggarwal & Aditya Khandekar of the ORF. As a conceptual proposal it holds the promise of changing the energy map of India.

While what is said in it, is not something new to those who have perused this field for sometime but, as a paper it needs to be made public. Distributed if need be on the news-paper stands for the public to read and debate on it.

With a resounding and passionate speech Dr. Faroukh Abdullah, minister MNRE almost made the dream of achieving perennial solar energy achievable and hope was rekindled. To be quickly lost when the opposition from the officials running the conventional power sector made it amply clear that they would in no way support this fledging industry to prosper and take wings. At least not with its infrastructure support at present.

An aware world supports Renewable Energy, the governments seem to making the right moves. Yet the future of renewable energy looks to be far away from the golden era it should have basked in by now.

So where is it that we are getting this wrong ? Let’s analyse some thoughts..

It is the approach… it has nothing to do with economics. It is the way the Mathematics of it is presented and believed. Pit it against cross-subsidy and subsidised kerosene distributed over a flawed PDS system, it would be a winner!  More on these thoughts can be found under –

1.Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos.

2.Solar Power: the Messiah for the Indian Oil Companies and the Finance Ministry

We still have not come out of the conventional thinking to make this great promise of Solar Power accessible in a way it should.

For starters, to whom does one go in order to understand the dynamics of power distribution and generation ? Obviously to those who have experience in this matter. And they usually are fellows who have devoted their lives in understanding the ways of fossil fuel based energy source. It would be highly unlikely that these experts can give a consistent and coherent advice on Solar.

Further, those who are in active service in the power sector have also the added responsibility to book profits from their area of responsibility. Thus a Coal secretary, or a Managing Director of thermal power plant would not want to waste his/her time in promoting something which is hostile to its business.

Neither would the Power Grid Boss want to give up the transmission lines to host of small players who would want to wheel power from one point to another. It is a tedious task to keep check on what is happening at any given time with the conventional supply, to add the task of evacuating electricity from mini-grids. It requires a certain kind of mindset to do so, and changing mind-set is an all-time barrier challenge.

Thus we keep hearing about Net Metering is about to start and the wait till now has been long drawn. That it would happen is for sure, but we have to wait for that to become a practice Pan India.

For Solar Power to be more powerful than the powerful fossil fuel lobby, it needs the support of the 49% of the India’s electorate – Women! If they want it, no economist can deny them…for in most Indian homes she is the finance minister…and she knows her math! And she is the most powerful.

The tought is beautifully highlighted in this advertisement by Tata Tea. While I endorse the idea of women empowerment, what I want to highlight is the stove on which the protagonist brews the tea..what if the fuel in it came from solar power…an induction stove / hot-plate directly connected to a small solar panel just outside the kitchen window, acting as its window shade, while powering a small UPS to give enough power for day/night operation ! (more on this idea)

 

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Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night.


In the Indian Express Newspaper on the 19th October, a news caught the eye of one of my friend and client, for whom I’m designing a Green township. Rooftops as Energy FarmsGujarat has launched a pilot project where rooftops of homes and commercial establishments are being rented out to generate solar power that is fed into the state grid, translating into a source of income for property owners and greening electricity production.

The State of Gujrat, under CM Narendra Modi is quite tuned to the Climate change and understands the need to engage the common person in creating an energy surplus state. With each house-hold given the incentive of Rupee 3/- via the Grid interactive system. Starting with Gandhinagar, the program of giving ‘carbon credits’ to five more cities have been approved by the Gujrat government. One hopes the rest of India would follow this sensible way of boosting the energy issue, without courting controversy.

Net metering is an electricity policy for consumers who own (generally small) renewable energy facilities (such as wind, solar power or home fuel cells) or V2G electric vehicles. “Net”, in this context, is used in the sense of meaning “what remains after deductions” — in this case, the deduction of any energy outflows from metered energy inflows. Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate. (Source: Wikipedia)

In simpler words, When your home is equipped with a renewable energy source (such as wind or solar power), it sends the excess energy that’s generated back into the grid to power other homes. While you’re away, your house is generating energy but you’re not using it. Net metering ensures the energy you generate at home doesn’t go to waste. An electrical converter called an inverter turns the DC (direct current) power coming from your renewable energy source into AC (alternating current) power, which matches the voltage of the electricity flowing through the power line. If you’ve generated more energy than you’ve used at the end of the year, your electric company may pay you back for the extra power. Net metering can be measured over the month or year. Annualized net metering provides a more accurate measurement because it takes into account your changing energy usage and production over the four seasons. ( Source:How Stuff Works).

This week Tamil Nadu opened up the GBI –The scheme of generation-based incentive (GBI), essentially aimed at covering domestic consumers, will be administered jointly by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (Teda) and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco). Included in the recently unveiled Solar Energy Policy, the scheme envisages providing Rs. 2 per unit for the first two years; Re. 1 per unit for the next two years and 50 paise per unit for the subsequent two years.

While it is good to see that the state after state is awaking to the solar policy and even looking at giving a return, what they also need to look at is innovation. The most important factor is who would be the beneficiary of this GBI ? Will it actually elevate the suffering of the needy? Who guarantees that the surplus power thus created would eventually given back to the very locality which is providing the roof-tops? With states having shortfall in their generation, it would be easy to send the power for commercial use and thus encourage more commercial enterprises to set shop; having found assured power. This is most possible because commercial power brings in more profit to the electric company. The other profitable venture is from the rich residential area where the tariff is decent. However, the rich and the upper middle class in megalopolises, live in tall sky-scrapers where open roof-top is a premium. But they require system which is minimum 5KW. Here the price becomes steep even if space can be found even for most upper middle class consumers.

The roof-tops which is available & most need the power belong to the tier-II cities middle class and the rural poor, who are already finding hard to make ends meet. With, the cost per watt peak between INR 50/- to 120/-  which per Kilo Watt translates to One Lakh Twenty thousand, is not something every “Aam Admi” ( aam = common; it also denotes – Mangoes) can aspire to purchase and that is something our policy makers have not thought about. A person who uses only 5kwhr of power or 5units a day is not someone who could or need to spend Rupee 1.2 lakh or $ 2232. Therefore, it could be easy for the unscrupulous to capture vast rooftops, set up the solar and skim the poor roof-top owners. Imagine, the economically weaker section providing their collective roof-tops at the city fringes and receiving Paise Ten of every Rupee envisaged in the scheme, while the rest the “investor” pockets. It is not that such eventuality would not have been thought by the policy makers, but who would be monitoring? In the “scam a week” India of today, every utopian idea can get bastardized easily.

But, here is the way one may improve the concept and provide the power to one and all especially the middle class, who are a fairly large consumer as a group staying in class 1 cities like Pune, Bangalore and the likes where roofs; unlike Mumbai are still available in size large enough to cater to a decent solar power generation. One can also add New Delhi as the megalopolis which can afford and need the solar to stem the power outages in Summer.

There are already RESCO‘s who have been supporting my concept of OPEX Solar and the only thing they are interested is in banking the extra-generation and availing it when required from the DISCOM. Here they are wanting to put up the system which generate power during the day which is enough to cater to the needs of that very roof owner for a 24hour period.

The solution is simple. Say for example, a restaurant requires 100Kw and consumes 40KwHr during the daytime and 60KwHr in the night. As solar does not function in the night, ideally they would require a battery bank to store the power. However, if the surplus 60Kw is sent to the grid and in the evening the grid supplies that much power back to the establishment, then in effect the restaurant is running its operations on 100% Solar power. Same can be thought for residential areas which are large consumer of power.

The Grid can benefit in many ways –

1. It can charge a fee say between 2 to 5% ( similar to wheeling charges ) from the RESCO.

2. During the daytime when peak demand makes it difficult to manage, the extra solar power coming to it would ease the pressure and can be sold at commercial rate while eliminating the chance of a Grid collapse.

3. It would also help them not to short-change the rural and the urban poor, by being able to cut down on their load-shedding hours, which in certain places is 6 hours or more. Which would eventually help the countries growth.

What we require are policy which are driven from the Centre and applied equally by all states. The incentives which are envisaged are good. Let that be given to the RESCO’s who find it un-viable to provide the services to the rural and urban poor, whose tariff does not allow the companies to have a IRR which is acceptable. A decent  tariff is INR 7.50. Therefore if the state gives the extra INR 3.00 on the tariff of INR 4.50 which is the tariff in some places, almost all the roof of India would see a solar panel within 3 years.

 

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Green Business Ideas – Abandoned coalfields can boost RE and save forest in India.


Through this article, an attempt is being made to be on the top rung of the IWR-2012. We as a Nation must understand the meaning of Wealth as opposed to Riches. As the World reels in the clutch of economic depression; of its own making through continued myopic vision of the leadership, India my beloved nation is gearing up to tear away the last remaining virgin forests in the name of “development”. That development is a fundamental right of humans, the right of live of all living beings (trees, animals and even moss, lichen and bacteria)  and their importance in keeping this world alive can’t be discounted. As always, I abhor unlawful protest and mindless activism, but would attempt to find an idea for mankind to earn more riches but in the process create & preserve the natural wealth of the Nation.

In the recent report published, it is stated that the USA is abandoning RET for cheaper Gas. Many companies especially in the Solar PV business have closed shop.This is primarily because, people will adopt technologies which are cheaper. To this argument I have only one question to ask, is Gas renewable energy? It is not and it has its own set of problems, both ecological as well as geopolitical. Thus if the sum-total is added up, Gas is not cheaper as it is presented via a series of complex mathematical calculations. These calculations are made by “experts” who have no expertise on the environmental and ecological consequence. Neither are the experts on the physiological impact it would bring in the long term on the Peoples who, addicted as they are to fossil fuel go into depression, for want of continuous supply of the same. Every middle east upheaval can be attributed to this fear of change in the absence of another addictive fossil fuel, Oil. On whose slippery ground the modern civilization stands today. As far as I know in the India context, we are having a major Geopolitical tension with our Northern neighbours, who seem to be claiming a sea zone for itself. Although War is also a form of ‘renewable’ action, I don’t think it is sustainable and green, just as the shale gas for which we are going into so much trouble.

While we have some time unlike the USA, to really have an impact from gas; we surely have created a World record recently – by having the largest grid failure in the history of the civilized world. And this has renewed the baying for more coal field allocation, which is fatal to the preservation of the Ecosystem.

A modern Nation, with weak infrastructure is a recipe for disaster, as it becomes vulnerable to external malicious attacks. Imagine if we are in a grid-lock, with all  critical systems off-line ( although external defence may have back-ups but civil defence in disarray would only cause problems) and disaster strikes. Either natural or man-made, the resulting mayhem is to scary to discuss.  And this is exactly the matter which the mandarins at the Capital must be discussing. The sudden explosive actions across the Nation to increase electric tariff and diesel price, points to the direction that the last remaining saner voices within the administration are being heard and untenable subsidy may be on the way out.

The danger however is that, historically politicians across the world have a very myopic vision but superb oratory skill. And with this Devil – gifted skill, they would convince the Nation that “coal-gate scam” is actually a boon. And we must allow to rip the heart of Mother Earth ever more and extract coal, to fuel our thermal power plants and thus produce more electricity. And a few more Nuclear plants would actually ease the pain .

Environment be dammed! Already preparation are on to create a sham of the Madhav Gadgil report on the western ghats, which suggests detailed recommendations and suggestions on preservation of the Ecologically sensitive region which has even got the UNESCO status. ( details in DNA news).

But, as in all problems my beloved Nations faces, in this Great National Blackout too I see a fantastic Green Business opportunity. Together we the people, the environmentalists and the think-tanks can help our Corporate Czars, perhaps members of CIICESD and WBCSD to build upon the renewable energy options and reap the benefits. Before we delve into it let us first understand coal.

Coal is perhaps one of the most important discovery which catapulted the human civilization to its present form. Coal has various grades Lignite, Sub-bituminous coal,Bituminous coal, Steam coal, are mostly used for industrial purpose, where as Peat, Anthracite, Graphite have also found use in residential heating, agriculture and making lubricants and most importantly the Pencil . However the primary use of coal lets say to keep it simple, is for two basic purpose – It is primarily burned for the production of electricity and/or heat, and is also used for industrial purposes such as refining metals. The five largest coal users – China, USA, India, Russia and Japan – account for 77% of total global coal use. Coal & Oil along with their derivatives are here to stay and no amount of protest would stop its use and extraction completely. Let us not for a minute, forget that even the rudiments of protest which we as environmentalists are advocating & sharing via electronic media today would  be possible if the production of coal is stopped abruptly. Because we are using the very infrastructure built via use of coal.  Over the ages, with knowledge which we had during that time, coupled with complete absence of any form of protest against pollution; we have built this modern high-carbon life style completely dependent on one form of carbon or other.

However, if concerted action is taken we can within an acceptable and accelerated time-frame perhaps be able to switch over to more cleaner and renewable options which are already available in the alternative energy basket. And the way forward may be the idea I’m about to present. It would in no way be perfect, but just a seed of thought which I’m sure people with expertise can work on. And coupled with the renewable energy mission our country is attempting to take, we may just be able to increase  that scope. Especially Solar, Hybrid Solar  and Solar thermal power stations. And I propose another type of idea that which may be named – Geo-thermal + Hybrid solar, if it finds currency among the experts. And to this I appeal CAN-International, WRI and Green Peace International to find the experts who could make this possible.

Having established that Coal ( as is oil & gas ) is  a fuel, we need to see where it is being used. Again to keep it simple, we will take the largest consumers namely – 1. The Steel Plants  2. The Thermal Power plants.

In India, our steel plants come under the banner of Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and they are situated in the city of  Bokaro, Bhilai, Rourkela and Durgapur. To begin with let’s see look at the area a steel plant requires and what are the allied industries within it or at close proximity. Clicking on the image one would be able to zoom into the Rourkela Steel plant, Odisha.  On one end you would notice the Slag dumping ground and exactly opposite between the CISF grounds and the Diesel Colony railway station, a massive coal yard. The coal to this plant comes from  the once beautiful place around the now famous Mahanadi Coal fields thermal power plant area  around the historic IB river valley between  Jharsuguda, Brajrajnagar and Belpahar. ( “Bel” = wood apple + pahar = hill, one should know that there are no more hills because the open cast mining has ripped this place apart ) and the the iron-ore from the last dense forest cover of Kiri Buru. A place so beautiful that it could have made one of the best hill-station of that region, if humans had not found iron -ore there.  While my limited knowledge can’t find the alternate to steel, it is however a different matter about how we can limit the use of coal.

To begin with, let us switch the use of coal as being envisaged for thermal power plants  in the  steel plants too. And use Solar Photo Voltaic to the extent possible. As the supply of coal becomes more and more scarce, the massive land area within the Steel plants which has to stock up coal  can easily be converted into land for Concentrated Solar Power panels. Coal is required as a fuel, to be burnt in blast furnaces to produce heat to produce steel. Now if we can still provide the heat through heating coils, which are powered by CSP, the job can be done. The fundamentals would be more or less the same which is being advocated by NREL Coupled with heat recovery units and in time other innovations, CSP may well be able to supply the electricity required for night-time operations too, perhaps with Nickel–iron battery (NiFe Batteries) which are reborn and  presently showing promise better than the Lithium-ion batteries. But it is obvious that the land required to produce the amount of electricity needed will not be sufficient within the plant premise. For this I would like to draw our attention to the following.

The attached     table    on degraded and wasteland  from a research paper by Indian  Council  of Agricultural Research and National Academy of Agricultural   Sciences       (double click on image for full report) shows that we have an average of 133.95 Million Hectares of degraded and wasteland. A detailed and easy to understand report it warns of the impending food crisis and climate change due to the continuous degradation of land. Excerpts – Forests occupy about 19.4% of the total geographical area of the country against the ideal requirement of 33%…. Per capita availability of inelastic land resource is rapidly declining in  relation
to annual population growth of 1.4% in the country.  Increasing GDP growth is expanding urbanization and industrialization and, therefore, more and more of agricultural lands are being utilized for non-agricultural purposes. The complex interplay of natural and anthropogenic processes compounds problems of land-use planning further. Maintaining and enhancing productive potential of our land resources is vital for progressive introduction of sustainable technologies, and thereby resilience in crop production….This challenge must and needs to be met in the face of the changing consumption patterns, impacts of the climate change and degradation of the finite land and water resources. Management of land resources, in general, and potentially cultivable lands in particular, encompasses, crop production methods that will keep pace with country’s food needs, sustaining environment, blunting impacts of climate change, preserving and enhancing natural resources, and supporting livelihood of farmers and rural population in the country. Thus, there is a pressing need for enlarging area under arable lands, by the way of reclaiming degraded lands for sustainable intensification of agriculture, in which crop yields can be increased without compromising and yielding to adverse environmental impacts and without reducing area under forests…. Land degradation, like climate change, is an anthropogenic induced process and poses biggest threat to sustainable livelihood security of the farming communities across the country. All of these factors combined with increased rate of land degradation are contributing towards decline in agricultural productivity leading to food insecurity. Since land resources are finite, requisite measures are required to reclaim degraded and wastelands, so that areas going out of cultivation due to social and economic reasons are replenished by reclaiming these lands and by arresting further loss of production potential.
In all this dark and doom, one can see that India’s democratic foundation is strong and its institutions work. Only the reports which can actually make a positive impact gets buried in Crony Capitalism and narrow political agenda of a few. That there is a rot in the cart of apples is evident, therefore the better ones are in grave danger and need all the more to connect to the pulse of the people and do the right thing.

And if the recent buzz is to be believed we are going to lose a massive forest cover sooner than later for mining coal for feeding our thermal power and steel plants. And this can be reduced if not stopped.

And that would be to identify the completely degraded land and set up Solar plants in them to offset the needs of the power and steel industry. According to the Wasteland Map of India–NRSA data, land which comes under Physical degradation that is – Mining and industrial waste 0.19 million hectares; Water-logging (permanent surface inundation) 0.88 million hectares; and as per Salt-Af fected Soils Map of India,CSSRI, NBSS & LUP, NRSA and others, land under Chemical degradation ie; Exclusively salt affected soils amount to 5.44million hectares.

If one visits the coal -belt area between Durgapur Steel Plant and Asansol ( Burnpur steel from British era ) and halt at Andal junction, one would find huge tracts of waste land, where not even a single blade of grass grow. While underground mining is relatively better for the ecology  but how far biological reclamation is possible needs to be understood, as this Newsletter of ISEB India has touched upon.  Therefore one suggestion could be that solar power plants be installed in these degraded land. Even the permanent water logged abandoned mine areas and contaminated water from the mines which are run-off can be taken into good use by converting them into the mini-source of water, which is what in the form of steam runs the turbines of a thermal power plant to generate electricity.

And the most important innovation would be to tap into the heat of the smouldering underground fire which these vast mine fields have ignited.By using Geothermal Technology. It is a phenomena found World wide and I can not fathom how the great corporate Czars have not yet thought of exploring this heat to electricity and earn a Noble Prize in the process.

The Greatest Green Business Idea till now would be that with one deft stroke, where-ever possible ( everything is possible if economics do not come in the way, just as it does not when a Nation hosts the Olympics, spending billions on stadia which would hardly see the same amount of use, ever again ) degraded land especially near Steel plants and Thermal power plants need to install CSP. And capture the latent heat from the vast burning underground coal fields to supplement the night-time requirements.   A strong policy which looks into the aspects of support as required by this fledgling RET industry must be given. And for those who are wondering how to capture the heat from the burning coal-fields just read-up on geo-thermal technology.

As mentioned in my earlier article, the private sector is already geared up to meet this challenge and some of the players would jump into the opportunity of Build Own Operate and Transfer model (BOOT).  The challenge is would the media house and the top environment NGO’s take this matter up to create a crescendo of public awareness, thus making the government take action !

Note:  The images used have their original urls attached to them (and the articles therein are a must read) as are underlined links which contain the complete story to support this article. These images are only for representation purpose, however if the idea in the article helps recover any waste land for good use, I shall be grateful.

 

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A clarion Call to Sustainable Living


A couple of days ago, I was giving a presentation as how through my firm I can provide Solar Photo Voltaic system to all Commercial and Infrastructure projects which require large amount of energy to operate.  And that too in an OPEX format, by that I mean I have investor backing who would want to become RESCO. Presently it is  on roof-top model. So Hospitals, Hotels, Malls, Commercial Complexes and Airports, Rail-stations etc, which have large roof-top can have power. It would obviously lower Diesel consumption, which is generally used for back-up.

The idea as I have mentioned in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy. is becoming popular but when we want to scale, its facing the biggest road block of subsidised tariff on fossil fuel. Even when my concept of Solar OPEX is ready to handover ownership on the 10th -15th year, and only charging discounted tariff on generation, due to heavy subsidy in the industrial sector the idea just can not germinate under the intense competition from the subsidy. We can provide power to all at about INR 8.50/- but all arguments fall flat when the industry and in some states even commercial power is at INR 4.50 – 6.00/-.

Recently there has been an article which says that a lobby consisting of industry captains, NGO‘s and common persons are petitioning the UNFCCC meet at Rio, to come out with strong laws which would abolish subsidy on fossil fuel. And to be honest, this would give birth to the best Green Business Idea of this century.

Long there has been talk of how one must charge the true value of water, only then the waste of it can be limited. Longer has been the demand to remove subsidy from fossil fuel. Granted it is a political hot-potato, but if one shows a slight more maturity and instead of short-sighted goal explain to the people the farsightedness of this measure, I am sure people would understand. Unfortunately, mostly vote bank politics and corporate greed drive policy.That we have finite resources must be advertised with all the collective forces we can gather and impart that knowledge to all.

We must now begin to evolve an universal law. Not laws which govern different countries. Constitution of each country is different. What is crime for one can be heroism for another. How then we are the United Nations?Let there be diversity in approach to a solution but let laws that govern the sustainability of Earth be one. To be adopted by every member nation. It is only then we can have prosperity. It is not a tall task to achieve because, when 134 Nations can come together to force a recalcitrant Nation to subjugate, it can as well be applied to save the Earth from disaster.

Today our civilisation is in a cusp. It is time we move away from the era of Capitalist consumerism. Human history had many epoch – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. And Human Civilisation did thrive. Excellence was achieved. So much so that they still stand testimony in the name of Arayabhatta, Chanakiya,Confucius, Aristotle. In great monuments like the Pyramids in the Americas and West Asia, the monuments in Macedonia and Greece, the Great Wall and many more. They stand testimony to time. Sustainable thoughts & deeds and also sustainable buildings. Sadly today we can not be as advanced in thoughts as our ancestors, the reason is complete disconnect from Nature.

Though I do not advocate any religion, yet in paganism which was followed around the globe once, there was a direct connect to Nature. We must evolve ourselves into a collective which can rise above religion and creed, greed and short-sightedness to evolve a solution which is the NEXT CIVILISATION. An era where B-Crop are norm then exception and Sustainable is not a catch phrase but a human and corporate agenda.

 

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Energy Efficient Buildings are a tribute to the Environment


It is being foretold by many experts, that it would be innovative business strategy and restructuring of the Corporate conduct which would help stop Global Warming.  The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and The CII -ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development (CIICESD) are perhaps the vanguard for abatement of Climate Change, should one agree to the statement above.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CIICESD which generates awareness & thought leadership, and builds organization capacity to achieve sustainability and the WBCSD which is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. These organisations, soon be able to convince all business to morph into what is now becoming popular in the USA and soon would encompass the World, the B-CORP . It is not only the matter of Salvation of the Earth, but deeply entwined with Earth’s fate is the survival of the Business community and thus by default the modern society itself.

Close cooperation between all stakeholders in society is essential to creating a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. And the key elements of all business revolve around 3 fundamental needs of humans – Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Se below

Se below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Sustainable village would be one which is fashioned such, that it ultimately provides near self sufficiency in most areas and excel in some; which become the  core trading with other self-sufficient towns but lacking expertise or sufficiency in those which the other has. Thus a perfect symbiosis and balance can be achieved. But the first step to obtain the desired level of sustainability and making it norm, would require us to build the new cities and retro-fit, where possible the old ones in accordance to the ideas of sustainability.  Below is an attempt to provide a very brief over-view of what should be achieved.

THE BUILDING SECTOR

The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements:

Residential buildings — housing the population; and

Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two thirds of national employment.

Component parts of the building sector are noted in chart

Residential Building Commercial Building
Detached housesAttached dwellingsBuildings containing two or more sole occupancy units Wholesale tradeRetailAccommodation, cafes and restaurantsCommunication servicesFinance and insuranceProperty and business servicesGovernment administration andDefense

Education

Health and community services

Cultural and recreational services

Personal and other services

The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:
1. The amount of energy consumed; [inclusive of embodied energy in materials]
2. The mix of fuels used;
3. The average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and
4. Upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions. A larger proportion of GHG emissions are attributable to the building sector than its share of energy use because the building sector uses greenhouse gas intensive energy. Notably the building sector energy end use is dominated by electricity consumption which is dominated by coal fired generation located at the end of long transmission networks.

Emissions from the building sector are broadly of the same scale as emissions produced by the entire transport sector.

Facts
• Buildings’ share of final energy consumption: 30-40%
• Global CO2 emissions from energy in buildings (2005): 9Gt
• Estimated growth by 2050 in all 6 EEB regions: 76%
• Growth in global population by 2050: 2.7 billion or 42%

Many energy efficiency projects are feasible with today’s energy costs. Building energy efficiency investments in the six EEB regions (Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the US) studied, totalling US$ 150 billion annually, will reduce related energy use and the corresponding carbon footprint in the range of 40% with five-year discounted paybacks for the owners. A further US$ 150 billion with paybacks between five and 10 years will add 12 percentage points and bring the total reduction to slightly more than half.
(WBCSD-2010)

THE ABATEMENT POTENTIAL

The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economic basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through:
1. Substitution for more energy efficient light fittings;
2. Greater use of natural light;
3. Substitution for more efficient refrigeration;
4. Adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible;
5. Adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use;
6. The introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation.
7. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by:
1. Improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles;
2. Use of natural ventilation where possible;
3. The use of more efficient office appliances;
4. Better insulation;
5. Improved heating and ventilation;
6. The use of efficient light fixtures;
7. Upgrading to more efficient water heating systems; and
8. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

Under each area, detailed topics have been sorted out according to time span to wide adoption in construction:
1. State-of the art [current situation]: technologies that are already commonly used in the industry form the baseline for future development,
2. Short term […2013]: technologies that are available and are ready for being used in construction;
3. Medium term […2020]: technologies that offer beneficial opportunities for construction but need to be adopted or further developed for construction.
4. Long term […2030]: emerging new technologies that are deemed to offer benefits to construction in ling term in applications that still need to be identified.

STATE-OF THE ART & SHORT TERM ACTIONS:

1. Design and demonstrate energy positive new building solutions:
1. RE -driven µCHCP [“combined heat, cooling, and power production”]
2. Smart & small AHU
3. Passive energy storing construction materials/design
4. LED/Induction Lighting
5. Smart glazing
6. E&C [effective daylight capture through ceiling]
2. Design and demonstrate prefabricated and modular energy retrofit solutions, like:
1. Multifunctional building envelope solutions
2. Low temperature heating and cooling solutions [ LowEX ]
3. Hybrid ventilation solutions
4. Advanced lighting solutions
5. Building and community systems
3. Develop performance indicators and criteria for sustainability, environmental impacts and GHG reductions in buildings [ low energy class, energy star , etc]
4. Develop advanced control system, sensor networks, user-interfaces and information management technology to improve energy efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts in buildings and communities : wireless sensor/ actuator network; smart meters; dynamic heat and power grids.

Note:
End-use efficiency gains are likely to take the lion’s share of energy reductions, and in many cases will be the most economically viable option. Analysis of the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from energy shows that substantial reductions are needed both in energy generation and consumption.

There are three elements:
1. Use less energy – cut buildings’ energy demand by improved design, using insulation and equipment that is more energy efficient
2. Make more energy locally – produce energy locally from renewable and otherwise wasted energy resources
3. Share energy – create buildings that can generate surplus energy and feed it into an intelligent grid infrastructure to balance the energy needs of other buildings

MEDIUM & LONG TERM ACTIONS:

5. Design and demonstrate more solutions for energy positive buildings [new & retrofit]:
1. Vacuum frame
2. Cabrio-facades
3. Lego (retrofitting) building elements & interior furbishing
4. Compact seasonal heat/cold storages
6. Demonstrate Zero -or Plus-Energy communities
1. Intuitive, educational, self-learning E & C ms
2. HRU-bank for HHA [and waste water]
7. Develop more solutions for energy positive new buildings and retrofit:
1. Thermo-chemical material for heat storage
2. Daylight storage
3. H2produced from the sun
4. Vacuum envelope
8. Develop solutions supporting energy positive communities:
1. Energy -HUB; economic driven buildings [industry] & transport
2. DC grids
3. PV&T wipe & pipe free
4. Wireless energy exchange
9. Demonstrate Sustainable communities
1. Economic efficiency by integrated system optimization [optimal use of energy]

It is now time that all stake-holders, should enter the market, there are opportunities for architects, engineers, property developers, the finance community and others in the building sector to capitalize on energy efficiency opportunities to build the “hybrid house”.

Private Sector Jobs - April 2011

Private Sector Jobs – April 2011 (Photo credit: Leader Nancy Pelosi)

Business which are totally moribund can be revitalized with new energy and direction. Architects should be ready to take the responsibility to act as the integrator of different systems, building parts and services into a solution that fulfils the end-user’s needs. And create Buildings that are G.O.L.D (Globally Optimised Locally Designed). Instead of components or buildings, offering integrated and performance based solutions for energy efficient & environmentally friendly buildings and communities that support sustainability.

Courtesy: WBCSD

 

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Greening The HVAC Energy Supply


English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an offi...

English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an office building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The HVAC &R industry is transforming and morphing itself to the needs of the current Environmental scenario. They are packing more efficiency with less energy consumption and maintenance needs. The home versions too are coming with intelligent functions and sleeker smaller sizes which blend with the décor. Yet there is one thing which the industry requires to truly make it, what the environmentalist can call a GHG friendly product. And that is tie it to a power source which is a RE (renewable energy) source.
Imagine the advantage, a major revenue consumer like the HVAC & R, would have as an impact to the market if RE could be packaged to it. Let us examine the possibilities and potential of this concept.
Renewable Energy source such as Geo-thermal (rock-heat essentially) combined with a Gas based electric source would be the choice where the premise has the space but not the roof-top which can hold the other RE-source that is a Solar +Wind hybrid.
This is a solution which the HVAC&R industry should study closely, especially in light of the new BEE norms that have come into play from the year 2012. While compliance to the law is a must, with a weak Rupee and a fluctuating consumer market innovation can be the only solution.

CIX Diesel Generator

CIX Diesel Generator (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

While the roof-top AHU’s can be designed to have SPV panels on top, it would only increase the cost of the product, while making some energy generation green. However if the HVAC &R industry tie up with the nascent SPV industry which are offering Solar Solution in the Operation Expense Format, it can revolutionize the market dynamics.
Let’s first understand the OPEX-Solar model. In this model the certain SPV companies are offering solution in which the total EPC and O&M expense is being borne by the SPV Company for a minimum period of 15 years before handing over the ownership of the asset to the user. All that the Solar Co’s are asking is the tariff as generated. Although this model is already a success on individual roof-tops and can be provided for up to 1MW on connected load, this requires proper Government support to be able to increase the load to above 2MW and at nominal wheeling charges.
It would create a win-win situation for both the HVAC&R industry and the Solar Photo Voltaic industry and a revolution in India in the Clean Tech – HVAC & R space.

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing ...

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21.http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2009.asp Total energy is from BP Statistical Review.http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another area which the HVAC & R tied to RE can get advantage from is synchronizing their system to Diesel Generators. During Grid power failure, the captive power used to run the HVAC & R plants are large Diesel Generators and an expensive option. Diesel is used for various purposes. Trucks (37%), Passenger Cars (15%), Buses (12%), Agriculture (12%), Industry (10%) and Power generation (8%). If we add the last three we get 30% of the total diesel pie of which we can easily allocate 40% as to be utilized for use of HVAC & R, by these three industries, for the purpose of cold storage, shop –floor cooling & cooling administration offices. Therefore with HVAC equipments tied to RE, the industry create a space which has no parallel till date. And in the process opens up a funding line which was till now only given for Clean technology purposes.

 

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Green Business Ideas:The Next in Future RE – Lease to Own.


Renewable Energy as one understands has a very broad spectrum. From Wave technology, Geo-Thermal Energy, Micro-Hydro Energy, Wind Energy and Solar Energy.The developments of the first three are still at a nascent stage and there are lots of barriers to make it available to all. Mostly because they are tied down to certain geographical requirements. However when one looks at Wind and Solar technology, this barrier is minimized to a large extent.

In the Wind Energy Outlook 2011 Union Minister MNRE, Dr. Farooq Abdullah says – Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy sector in the country. With a cumulative deployment of over 13,000 MW capacities, it accounts for nearly 70% of the installed capacity in the renewable energy sector in the country. The sector is growing rapidly and we are likely to achieve, for the first time in the country, a capacity addition of 2000 MW in a year, this year.

Energy demand has continuously outstripped production, and a peak energy shortage of around 12.7% prevailed in the year 2009-10. To meet this shortfall as well as the National Electricity policy target of ‘Electricity for All by 2012’, the cleanest options available to India are Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs). Although it would be difficult for the government to meet its promise of electricity for all by 2012, renewable energy options including wind power & solar will have to play a crucial role in India’s emerging energy mix if this shortfall needs to be arrested in the near future. Not only are they environmentally sound but also their project gestation periods are much shorter than those for thermal or nuclear power plant.

For India to meet its Energy Challenges and meet its goal by 2020, along with capacity building it must encourage through policy adjustments level playing field for all innovation and ingenuity that can be brought into the field of RET. Already there is a company which is trying to provide electricity through gas in an OPEX format in Mumbai, India. The model offers power to the client at a lower tariff by certain percent than the grid and over the contractual period increases year on year the tariff per unit thus recovers its money. Though the IRR is not very good, the company is keeping its vision long term, as it knows that conventional energy would become more and dearer both in terms of supply and cost.

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy (Photo credit: SEDACMaps)

The same idea can be applied for Renewable Energy, especially in Micro-Wind and Roof-top Solar. Indian investors have the money and the ingenuity to come-up with solutions. The Government of India has been trying to encourage the Micro-grid especially for rural areas. However, much of Urban tire-II & III cities facing power shortage during peak demand, in Indian summer. Companies which can model its finance intelligently from the various subsidies in offer and factor in the increase in cost of generation of conventional power should be able to come out with a viable instrument.

Once OPEX RET becomes a viable alternative in small captive power model, towns and villages in India would make it their main frame power source. This is because there is abundance of sunlight available throughout the Country and in certain pockets it can be combined with a hybrid wind + solar model to make the RoI better. By offloading the cost of only the inverters to the user, it can become a win-win situation for both.

In bigger Metro too there is abundant scope, especially if one ties this to LEED / GRIHA norms where RE power is an inbuilt criteria to attempt higher credit rating.  It also opens up possibilities for building retrofit to become more energy efficient.

Energy efficient products in lighting, HVAC and other product too stand to gain if their parent company can also through association or otherwise bring in the RE – OPEX model to their end customers.

Wind & Solar both have a bright future; the idea is to look at roof-tops rather than creating only large power plants. This way it would be able to overcome the limitations it faces in transmission and distribution and also increase its share in the energy pie.

 

 

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Future Energy – Which are the three finalist ?


a collage about renewable energy. see at the s...What would be the best Sustainable Energy solution, if we can finally change over from the current set of energy options we have today? That it would be a renewable and clean energy is obvious, but which among the ones would it be? With various opinions and expert advise, the common persons tends to get confused. However, it would finally be the common person who would finally choose the Energy Next.  It is therefore important to make them aware from  a holistic point of view about all the Energy Mix that is available and help make a informed choice, because the Earth as we know today, hurtling towards cataclysmic GHG induced Climate Change, does not have the luxury of time to learn from mistakes any-more.

Conventional Energy – the total conventional energy field of Nuclear, Coal, Oil and Gas is considered cheaper than the Renewable and Alternative Energy which are being advocated. I am not discussing Hydro, neither Macro nor Micro, because with the pitiable state of Water in the World, having enough for irrigation and drinking would be a challenge in itself. And nobody in there right mind would like to build another huge dam, without inviting controversy. And for the smaller ones, finding a fast flowing stream close to civilisation is difficult.  Perhaps one must also tread with caution when we look at the total boutique of Alternate and Renewable Energy source and not take things at face value.

We will explore through this article each form of energy and do a comparative analysis of the pro & cons. And in the most simple way possible.

1. Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world’s energy and 13–14% of the world’s electricity. Although now considered conventional due to the time frame it has been around, Nuclear technology is both an alternative energy as well as a renewable energy. Nuclear fusion and nuclear fission are two different types of energy-releasing reactions in which energy is released from high-powered atomic bonds between the particles within the nucleus. The main difference between these two processes is that fission is the splitting of an atom into two or more smaller ones while fusion is the fusing of two or more smaller atoms into a larger one.

Proponents, such as the World Nuclear Association and IAEA, contend that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions. It’s more environmentally beneficial solution since it emits far fewer greenhouse gases during electricity generation than coal or other traditional power plants.

Opponents, such as Greenpeace International and NIRS, believe that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment. Radiation isn’t easily dealt with, especially in nuclear waste and maintenance materials, and expensive solutions are needed to contain, control, and shield both people and the environment from its harm.

2. Coal, is composed primarily of carbon along with variable quantities of other elements, chiefly hydrogen, sulphur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams.

Proponents, Coal could be the world’s most attractive fuel in years to come thanks to the methods of coal purification which are resulting in more cleaner coal, removing sulphur and other dangerous elements. Coal is not only burned directly, but it can also be transformed into liquid or gas form. Its claimed that liquefied or gasified coal burns cleaner, meaning less air pollution.Coal is one of the world’s most plentiful energy sources. Compared with other energy sources, such as oil and natural gas, coal is inexpensive. It has been a useful resource for human consumption throughout history. It is primarily burned as a fossil fuel for the production of electricity and/or heat, and is also used for industrial purposes such as refining metals. Coal, a fossil fuel, is the largest source of energy for the generation of electricity worldwide.

Opponents, Coal usually has a negative impact on environment, mining can damage ground and surface waters and when coal burns as the fuel it releases CO2 which is the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming. The soft coal, which many power plants burn, contains sulphur. When the gaseous by-products are absorbed in clouds, precipitation becomes sulphuric acid. Coal sometime also contains radioactive material. A coal-fired power plant may also emit some radiation into the air, and is one of the largest worldwide anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide releases.

3.Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds,  it is a fossil fuel.

Proponents, Due to its high energy density, easy transportability and relative abundance, oil has become the world’s most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. No other energy source can move vehicles with greater speed at longer distances than oil. Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics wax, sulphur, asphalt ; the 16% not used for energy production is converted into these other materials.

Opponents, Oil may contribute to global warming in its production and use by releasing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Burning oil releases extra carbon dioxide, that has been stored in the earth for millions of years. This is disrupting the natural carbon cycle. It also causes strong localized effects. CO, NOx, and particulates damage local ecosystems and directly impact life expectancy (think smog, asthma, etc). Separating and refining oil takes a lot of energy. Oil exists as a mixture of hydrocarbons with traces of sulphur and other compounds. For useful products to be separated from crude oil, it must be treated with “thermal cracking,” an energy-intensive process that separates and reforms different hydrocarbons based on their boiling point.

4.Natural Gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, with up to 20 percent concentration of other hydrocarbons as well as impurities in varying amounts such as carbon dioxide. Natural gas is widely used and is an important energy source in many applications including heating buildings, generating electricity, providing heat and power to industry and vehicles and is also a feedstock in the manufacture of products such as fertilizers.

Proponents, Widely used, contributes 21% of the world’s energy production today. Used extensively for power generation as well as heat.Cleanest of all the fossil fuels. Burns quite efficiently. Emits 45% less CO2 than coal. Emits 30% less CO2 than oil. Low levels of criteria pollutants, (e.g. SOx, NOx) or soot when burned. Can be used as an automotive fuel. Burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel
No waste (e.g. ash ) or residue to deal with. Lighter than air, safer than propane which is heavier than air. Can be used to makes plastics, chemicals, fertilizers and hydrogen.

Opponents, Emits carbon dioxide when burned. Contains 80-95% methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Additionally, there are significant environmental risks associated with “fracking”. Water pollution due to run-off of fracking chemicals. Water can also bring up adsorbed underground toxins including arsenic. GHG footprint of shale gas greater than coal over 100 year time frame.
Fracking has been linked to earthquakes.

The most important fact of Coal, Petroleum and Natural Gas that they are a finite source. And with the World Human population growing to 9 Billion strong, finite source of Energy would soon divide the World into haves and have nots. Wars have been fought for less. Of Nuclear as far as attracting controversy, it can be considered the champion.

So that brings us to the New age energy mix, one one hand is the Alternative Energy and on the other Renewable Energy.While RE is in itself an alternative energy source to the conventional energy, I would still elaborate it so that the common person does not get confused by the smart use of words. Let me explain.  The definition for alternative energy is found thus –Alternative energy is an umbrella term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels.

Say the undesired consequence from coal fired thermal power plants is sulphuric acid rain, so can the alternative be, oil fired power plants or wood is used as fuel ? They would not have the same “undesired consequence” of  the replaced fuel but bring in some other equally undesired results such as decimation of the rain-forest. Or instead of ‘fracking’ the gas,  extraction of Gas Hydrates is propagated as the next alternative. The problem related to it I have already dealt with and can be read via the link. Then there are some alternative energy source, like bio-fuel which presently at a nascent stage to really make an impact. And that too has its own set of problems. One would require vast land mass to cultivate the cash-crop and other  than it having the potential of destroying indigenous plants of the region, it would also require large security to keep it safe from natural disasters and man made mischief.  One may also  consider Nuclear, but unless the science fiction cold fusion becomes a reality, the present form has its own set of disadvantages. Therefore one must pause at the explanation for Alternative fuel which says “undesired consequences of the replaced fuels.

Corporations with vested interested use these very languages to confuse the common person in accepting solutions which are not truly beneficial but can be presented as such till the problems it creates becomes endemic and the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

The bitter truth is there are no real solutions to the problem at present, all the solutions which are being presented are lets say – “bridge solutions”. Although I  am a self declared fan on all Renewable Energy source. (even Nuclear, if its safety can be guaranteed ; unlikely in the present understanding of the technology), the fact can not be denied that for manufacture and transport and assembly of the New Age renewable energy machines, we still need to use mineral and machinery which can not be considered to be “clean”. This we must bear in mind while advocating for the RE technology. Therefore it is imperative that we back the right technology, lest “the sacrifice” we need to make in terms of environmental damage, to create the ultimate clean technology leaves us with no room to manuvere.

This brings us to the Gen Next solution of Renewable Energy. Let’s see how they stack up.

Krafla Geothermal Station.

Krafla Geothermal Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1.Geothermal Energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. At the core of the Earth, thermal energy is created by radioactive decay and temperatures may reach over 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5000 degrees Celsius). Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth’s geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet (20%) and from radioactive decay of minerals (80%). The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface.

Proponents,Once produced, geothermal energy is nearly completely non-polluting. Geothermal power plants are relatively inexpensive to operate. The energy is technically renewable and can be used as direct power source. These power plants are environmentally friendly and leave few carbon footprints. Fossil fuels are not needed to bring geothermal power plants on-line.  Geothermal energy (geothermal power) is a vast, renewable, clean, green, low carbon energy source that can be converted to electricity, and used to condition building environments. Improved technologies have the potential to access vast untapped sources of geothermal energy estimated to contain 50,000 times the energy of all oil and gas resources in the world. Geothermal energy requires no combustion; its energy already exists as heat. Capital costs for geothermal installations are lower than for comparable-size fossil or nuclear-fueled plants, and once a plant is built, there are no fuel costs.Where resources are abundant and accessible, geothermal power is already an energy bargain, usually less expensive than electricity generated by coal and nuclear plants It is flexible in its applications. It is well-suited for integrated industrial use – producing electricity, process steam, and heat for a a variety of industries and agricultural activities in a single region. There are no major economies of scale in production; small generating modules can be added one at a time as local development and need dictate.

Opponents, Technology only makes geothermal energy available from certain regions on the planet. Initial drilling costs are expensive and the process is complex.Geothermal energy requires a wide area. It needs to have a massive area in order to lay the pipes and to build the power plant itself. Studying an area if there is enough geothermal energy source is costly. Geothermal energy plants have the possibility to cause earthquakes. It is not viable in areas where geothermal heat is not abundant. Geothermal characteristics change with the area, so exploration is not easy. Geothermal turbine efficiency is comparatively low due to the low temperature and pressure of steam input. Overall plant efficiency is estimated to be about 15 percent less than that of a fossil-fuelled plant. Possible environmental dangers posed are land subsidence; production of waste water with high mineral content; release of noxious gases, such as hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and boron into the atmosphere, and large amounts of water vapour; and noise produced are substantial. Initial construction cost is expensive.

© Guerito 2005

© Guerito 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2.Wind Energy, Wind is the movement of air across the surface of the Earth, from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. The surface of the Earth is heated unevenly by the Sun, depending on factors such as the angle of incidence of the sun’s rays at the surface (which differs with latitude and time of day) and whether the land is open or covered with vegetation. Also, large bodies of water, such as the oceans, heat up and cool down slower than the land. The heat energy absorbed at the Earth’s surface is transferred to the air directly above it and, as warmer air is less dense than cooler air, it rises above the cool air to form areas of high pressure and thus pressure differentials. The rotation of the Earth drags the atmosphere around with it causing turbulence. These effects combine to cause a constantly varying pattern of winds across the surface of the Earth. Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using: wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships. ‘Wind Energy’ is the kinetic energy of air in motion.

Proponents,Wind energy is a green energy source. Wind energy is friendly to the surrounding environment, as no fossil fuels are burnt to generate electricity from wind energy.  Wind Power is free and in abundance in certain areas. The Wind Speeds are always higher on the shoreline, at the top of a hill, and in places free of obstructions. Wind Power does not generate “Pollution”, or radioactive waste. It does not consume any of the non-renewable resources such as coal, natural gas, or oil. Wind Power can generate enough energy for large numbers of people. By using larger turbines connected to an electrical grid it allows people the benefit of wind power without owning their own wind system. With new technology, the cost of a residential wind power turbines have decreased significantly while increasing in their efficiency. Small Wind Turbinesgaining some traction – While Wind Turbines are not generally used in distributed form, it is possible to now use small wind turbines being built by a number of companies to power small establishments.It is reported that costs have decreased well over 60% since the 1980’s. Wind power has no hidden costs, and it has become more cost-effective with each new round of technological advancements. It is a “permanent energy”. Wind turbines take up less space than the average power station. Windmills only have to occupy a few square meters for the base, this allows the land around the turbine to be used for many purposes, for example agriculture. Another advantage of wind energy is that when combined with solar electricity, this energy source is great for developed and developing countries to provide a steady, reliable supply of electricity. The offshore Wind Energy sector has the advantage of no land usage,no noise problems and the wind is much better leading to higher load factors. The costs are currently higher but in the future are expected to come rapidly come down. Wind power may be used to provide electricity to individual homes or other facilities on a self-reliant basis, with no need for fuel or other materials to be supplied. If a natural disaster severs power lines, residents with windmills will not lose their supply of electricity. The wind will exist until the end of the sun. About 5 billion years.

Opponents, Wind is unpredictable and the availability of wind energy is fluctuating. In many areas, the winds strength is too low to support a wind turbine or wind farm.Wind energy is therefore not suitable as a base load of energy source . This is why wind turbines have to be used together with other renewable or even non-renewable to meet the power demand. Another of the disadvantages is that they can be damaged in thunderstorms, partially because of their tall, thin shape. The website of the US National Lightning Safety Institute indicates that most damage to wind turbines is caused by lightning. This is more of a problem in warmer parts of the world, where they are frequent.Wind turbines generally produce a lot less electricity than the average fossil fuelled power station, requiring multiple wind turbines to be built in order to make an impact. The noise pollution from commercial wind turbines is sometimes similar to a small jet engine. Wind Turbines can sometimes use large amounts of land if not properly planned and built.The construction of roads to access the wind farms etc also takes up some land. Environmentalists express concern about the loss of trees, because the large turbines require turbulence free wind and also  for bird life as they can intrude on birds migration flight path.

3.Wave Energy, Wave power is the transport of energy by ocean surface waves, and the capture of that energy to do useful work,for example; electricity generation, water desalination, or the pumping of water (into reservoirs). Machinery able to exploit wave power is generally known as a wave energy converter (WEC).Wave power is distinct from the diurnal flux of tidal power and the steady gyre of ocean currents. Different regions of the earth’s surface receive different amounts of heat from the sun – the polar regions, for example, receive less sunlight than equatorial regions. This uneven heating creates differences in air temperature and pressure that cause wind. Winds blowing out at sea cause waves to form; these waves travel across the ocean surface and break on shores and beaches around the globe. In many areas of the world, the wind blows with enough consistency and force to provide continuous waves. There is tremendous energy in the ocean waves. Wave power devices extract energy directly from the surface motion of ocean waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface.

Proponents,Wave Energy does not produce any GHG emissions or cause air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels unlike coal,oil or gas.This makes them very attractive as a source of cheap,non carbon dioxide producing electricity. Wave Energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of energy. Wave Energy Generators can be installed in various sizes with as little as 1 MW.This is not possible for other energy forms which require a minimum large size such as Coal,Nuclear etc. Compared to wind,wave energy has a major advantage. The air that drives the turbines  is about one thousands less dense than the water just below the ocean surface. The energy that can be harnessed and used in electricity generation is parallel to the density of the medium. This means  that wave energy could be harnessed at much lower speeds.The amount power in that comes in waves is huge.  The energy density is typically around 30-40 kW for every meter (3.2 feet) of wave along the shore. Further into the ocean 100kW for every meter may be achieved. Waves are hardly interrupted and almost always in motion. This makes generating electricity from wave energy a reasonable reliable energy source ( when  compared to solar and wind). Wave energy source ultimately comes from the heat energy that is emitted from the sun. Thus will exist until the end of the sun. About 5 billion years.

Opponents, strong ocean storms and salt water corrosion can damage the devices, which could increase the cost of construction to increase durability and/or cause frequent breakdowns. This especially holds true with the increased complexity of the devices. Sea life could be harmed or have habitats disrupted or displaced by the operation of the devices or the mooring of the devices. The potentially larger footprint of ocean-dwelling device farms could reduce shipping channels and fishing and recreation areas. The movement of Attenuators or Point Absorbers or intake and movement of water in the OWC and Overtopping devices could produce a loud, constant noise. This noise is unlikely going to be significantly louder than the waves would make on their own.

4.Solar Energy, Solar Power, as the term is commonly used, applies to energy systems that produce energy directly from sunlight. Solar energy is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaic convert light into electric current using the photoelectric effect.

Proponents, All forms of solar power are extraordinarily clean and abundant. They produce zero pollution when operating. Well suited in also providing power in home or single building applications, such as rooftops of home owners, office buildings, etc. This reduces loss of power in transmission from utilities. Ability to harness electricity in remote locations that are not linked to a national grid. Very efficient in a large area of the globe, and new technologies allow for a more efficient energy production on overcast/dull days. The technology is proven by its ability to harness electricity in remote locations that are not linked to a national grid. A prime example of this is in space, where satellites are powered by high efficiency solar cells.  Small solar power systems are easily installed. Solar energy systems can be used in solar heating water systems, photo voltaic solar systems, solar home heating systems and solar home cooling systems. Its scalable & portable to be used in products like calculators, flash-lights, camping lanterns, attic fans, pond heaters and racing car kits. They are silent and have no moving parts. It is the most reliable form of energy -The sun rises daily, without fail. Will exist until the end of the sun. About 5 billion years.

Opponents, Solar energy is only able to generate electricity during daylight hours. Although there is a variety of options for storage, the most obvious is batteries, which are quite expensive. The weather can affect the efficiency of solar cells. Pollution levels can affect a solar cells efficiency. Low efficiency, requires large surface areasSolar panels take up quite a bit of roof space and there are reported problems from glint and glare.

The above completes the complete energy mix available to Humankind of the 21st Century. But it also opens up more questions than answers as to which would be the final energy medium to be declared the Champion. To find the answer we must explore a bit more.

The two essential components of all generators on the power grid are dispatch-ability and reliability. Dis-patchability means that generators can be started when operators need them, any time day or night, regardless of weather conditions and Reliability means that a generator will, virtually every time it’s fired up, produce constant, controllable power exactly as required by the power plant operator.  The electrical grid system, run through conventional power works not because every piece of equipment is one hundred percent reliable, but because there are hundreds of components with a large amount of reserve output capability (back-up) that work together to form one, very large, reliable system. The modern electrical power grid is designed and managed to operate 99.9% of the time with less than a 2% variance in voltage, regardless of the load swings placed on the system. The new age renewable energy systems need to match up to this.

Now if we bring in Geo-thermal and wave technology, the former was never considered as a major source of energy by many nations, not because it does not have potential, but because it is limited to a great extent by geography, and even where it may be present in abundance, it can not be totally green because the basic method of extraction is drilling, which is similar to fracking and can have similar problems and hazards.

Lets look at Wave Energy. There are many forms of this technology.But none are having the ability to produce large amounts of power yet. But if you look at the one devised by Palamis which I wrote in my earlier article it holds a lot of promise. Yet it too is not completely dis-patachable or reliable. High waves are not always a constant feature and vary from on geographical location to another, therefore reliability would require customisation depending on which part of the globe it is to be installed.

Wind power also  isn’t completely dis-patchable; it can’t be started unless the wind is blowing. Solar power also can not be produced in absence of sunlight.  Wind power also fails the reliability test because, even when the wind is blowing, it rarely blows at a constant speed. Wind tends to blow in gusts with an ebb and flow that makes wind generated power difficult to control. Solar too faces the uncertainties of weather. Also Solar insolation is not the same throughout the globe.

So as of now there seems to be no ‘perfect solution’ in sight, unless we combine the three, Wind – Wave – Solar. In an article some time back I had written about the benefits of Wind-Solar and Geothermal, while keeping Wave power separate in another article. But if you combine the three, the probability that at any given time one would be producing power can not be discounted. However, the problem therefore would be how to calibrate the power generation between the maxima and minima. Therefore breakthroughs in energy storage technologies is required to change this in the future. Already lot of work is being done, but it is not a ready solution yet.

But learning for Humans is a continuous process and I too have learnt that the Final winners for ENERGY NEXT would only be the combined strength of all the three. TRI -RE. ( pronounce – tree )

The most important advantage is that all the three energy is renewable and cannot be depleted. As long as the sun heats the earth and winds drive ocean waves, we will never run out of wave energy either. Fossil fuels, by contrast, are replenished so slowly by natural processes that for are essentially non-renewable. Once we run out of fossil fuels, we won’t have any more. If the tri-energy combine proves practical, it might help to replace fossil fuel combustion as a source of electric power. To do this we must look towards the sea, away from visual horizon, to take the aesthetics in mind and more power extraction, yet closer to the coast – for minimizing it from natural hazards and easier transmission. (The moorings can act as artificial reefs, thus attracting fish and other plant life, while keeping the deep-sea trawlers away. ) And complementing the loss in transmission by creating relay system using which ever technology among these  is appropriate for the geographical place, thus minimizing the impact on land surface area.

Yet, they would be the ‘bridge solutions’ till the science fiction Nuclear Cold Fusion happens and can be packaged as fuel cells. Perhaps its time for  WBCSD to think of Vision 2075 and look at all the Green Energy Combine.

Courtesy to :wikipedia, energy-consumers-edge, nuclearpowerprocon, ehow, energyformankind, energy-green, energyinformative, clean-energyideas, greenworldinvestor, renewablesguide, hubpages, windturbine, ocsenergy,  idebate, gentle-earth, earth911, greenfuture. 

 

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The Future of Renewable Energy is secure


Past clean energy growth 1995-2007. Based on i...

Past clean energy growth 1995-2007. Based on information contained in REN21 (2007) Global Status Report. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As time passes by Renewable Energy is becoming common word among communities & business which till now were not much interested in it. The factors are many, proposed increase in grid tariff, uncertainty in coal supply especially in the State Maharashtra, India.
What was most interesting is that people are willing to listen and adapt to alternative energy source. If India wants to capture the full spectrum of alternate / renewable energy, it should explore the opportunities in Geo-thermal as well. I have been fortunate to understand the scope of geo-thermal from an authority in the field and who is also considered as one of the top 10 innovators, Dr. Ritesh Arya. Who earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for striking ground water and drilling the highest bore-well in the world in Ladakh.
In my opinion the desolate deserts of Ladakh are ideal for both Geo-thermal and Solar + Wind Hybrid plants. The power generated could well be used for development purpose of this remote region, which can bring in prosperity both to the people of the region as well as to the various companies who would want to set up their power plants there.
According to Dr. Arya places like Manikaran, Tatapani and Vashist (Himachal) and Chumathang, Panamic, Puga Sasoma, Marsmicla and Demchuk (Ladakh), had a history and also acquired religious sanctity which could be exploited to attract tourists. “By setting up of recreational facilities like swimming pools, spas and good hotels and using the green non-polluting geothermal energy, the state could take lead in promoting low-carbon footprint tourism,” he pointed out.

Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacitie...

Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21.http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2009.asp Total energy is from BP Statistical Review.http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his published paper he has, highlighted the importance of developing geothermal sites and has asserted that advanced countries, which has acquired expertise in the field, should provide technical and other required support to the developing countries where the geothermal resource planning and development is still in its infancy. “After all, benefits of geothermal and rock energy has to be shared by all irrespective of the place. Also Clean rock energy should be made available to all at a very low price. Investment opportunities to develop geothermal sources are many but because of lack of initiatives by the successive government and policy makers, geothermal resource is a badly neglected resource.”
Now coming to the Solar Photo Voltaic, although the Government of India has shown great promise in support and development of Renewable Energy, subsidy is not the way forward. What is more required is to make Business aware of the inherent quality of making business sustainable. It is been historically recorded that even those who enter the USA Fortune 500 companies, their life-span is not more than 40 years, in Japan and Europe between 12 -15 years. The reason for this has been many, but most could be attributed to Business Risk. Now, this business risk has become more acute because of the Climate Change that is induced by human activity.
Yet, there are many who do not believe that Human activity has any impact on climate change. My esteemed friend Dr. Arya who I’ve mentioned above has even published a well documented article backed with solid evidence that Climate Change ie; Global Cooling and Global Warming is Cyclic and human have very little role to play in it.
His paper which was showcased in the Lisbon Global Conference on Global Warming: – C – curves and the Global Warming phenomenon. In which he says that – “Climate change happens in a pattern of  four cycles of 1176 years and a half cycle of 588 years. The last Ice Age ended in 10,000 years ago. Presently we are in a half cycle and seeing these signatures at present it seems that we have entered into warming phenomenon and are yet to experience the global maxima in the present C curve which may be around from today. Global Cooling and Global Warming is a Natural phenomenon”
Although it is a phenomenal work, what I humbly suggest is that there is no evidence of Human interference between the last Ice Age which ended 10,000 years ago and the present half –cycle because exponential human induced Green House Gas activity actually began only in the last 100 years and only in the last 60 years it has taken up endemic proportion since Earth became a Global village. Therefore Humankind does not know what would be the effect on the Eco-system which has gone into accelerated mode of Global Warming because of the human induced activity.
So, if we read into what the IPCC presents as a report, we should naturally lean our economy towards a less Carbon emitting system. To do that alternate and renewable energy are the only options.
In alternate energy, we are looking at Methane Hydrates, Shale Gas, and Tar –Sands in one spectrum and bio-fuel in the other. While bio-fuel today is not an alternative which can cater to the humongous energy needs, extraction of methane hydrates to tar-sands have their own share of controversy. This again leads us to the Renewable Energy source like Wave, Geo-thermal, Micro-hydro, and Wind & Solar. The first 3 are let’s say, at the incubation stage, which leaves us with Wind & Solar as the only viable alternative.
The most important factor about Wind& Solar is that the technology does not need any form of extraction, which always will be finite (barring wave & geo-thermal but they have their own engineering challenges) and it can be scaled both at Macro & Micro level, providing ease of use even to the common person. Thus grass root penetration is possible.
While it is a no-brainer to say that Wind & Solar cannot cover the total spectrum of energy needs, a judicious balance between the fossil fuel technology and the RE can act as a bridge for now to takes us into the future, safely enough to devise the best energy source which would help Humankind without the catastrophic dangers associated to GHG induced Climate Change.

 

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Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy.


The Economy is on a slowdown due to negative growth in all sectors in India. Some of it can be attributed to the Global mayhem. To be honest, it could be seen as  a good news. Especially for the Environment and advocates for Sustainable living. World over, humans follow one simple rule. When the going is good, why bother to stop and listen to saner voices ? However, post the Stern Review & SREX report, thing seem to be going towards a better direction. The road to Rio+20 may turn out to be a happy one, should this downtrend in economy continue till the Rio summit, as more and more Economists would advocate to overhaul the present Crony Capitalist model and turn it into Eco-Capitalism and the benefits of Green Business would come to fore. Although the RET (renewable energy technology) industry would wish me luck, most trade guru’s would laugh at my opinion. It would be challenging to prevent a roll back on gains made till date, at Rio+20. As because this is precisely the argument which would come forth -‘The World economy can not afford to go Green’, would be their argument laughing at any new idea brought forth. But they were also laughing at various other predictions of world-class economists and other saner voices before the Lehman Brother episode. It is the most foolish presumption and many, far more intelligent than me, would also agree.

The World Economy needs a review. A fresh approach, when unprecedented Climate change threatens all; institutions like CAN-International, Green Peace, WRI  and all others must grow and spread their influence of good-sense across Nations.  In the UNFCCC‘s Durban summit their stellar performance was evident in getting something out of nothing at all.

America has come up with a new way of conducting Business – ” Benefit Corporation“; I loved the word and the meaning therein – A company for profit of self through Sustainable practices benefiting the environment and  thus the community as a result. And Europe; when unprecedented economic hardships threaten the fabric of society they have come of with wonderful thoughts like  OPEX -Solar. With German and French companies leading the way. Their presence in India will be felt soon.

In my avatar as a Energy Efficient Building consultant, popularly known as Green Building consultant, (and fashioning my firm as a “benefit corporation” henceforth) crossing that last hurdle of having Renewable Energy or Green Power installed, which is not Solar Thermal but Solar PV always proves to be a challenge. While exploring potential in other RE formats, other than wind, has not truly taken off yet.  This led me towards a Green Business Idea. Solar PV in OPEX RE format in all  Certified Green Buildings projects .

India practices two certification programs. One is GRIHA, born out of the NAPCC’s  Mission on Sustainable Habitat and guided by the international think tank TERI. The Eight stated missions of NAPCC is the best hope of India standing tall in the Climate change negotiations at UNFCCC. GRIHA takes into account the Union governments commitment to sustainable habitat across all sections of society both Urban and Rural.

The other is by the business people for the people. CII’s  indigenous version of USGBC’s LEED. Guided by IGBC from its headquarters in Hyderabad, India’s first LEED Platinum Certified building, various certification programs have been dished out.

Both rating system have many common goals but with divergent approach. Let us first identify the common ground each rating possesses with regards to RET   ( renewable energy technology ).

Under Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment one requires –

Commitment: Meet energy requirements for a minimum of 10% of the internal lighting load (for general lighting) or its equivalent from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, fuel cells, etc). Use renewable energy sources in buildings to reduce the use of conventional/fossil-fuel based energy resources.

Commitment: Ensure that a minimum 50% of the annual energy requirement for heating water (for applications such as hot water for all needs, like for canteen, washing, and bath rooms/toilets, except for space heating) is supplied from renewable energy source.

Under Indian Green Building Council we have many subdivisions, but energy from RET is more or less common, let’s briefly look at the various certification programs and what they say on RET under LEED.

LEED India NC Rating :

7.5%  RE onsite Assess the project for renewable energy potential including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro, and bio-gas strategies. When applying these strategies, take advantage of net metering with the local utility.

Green Power Demonstrate that the company has installed green power equivalent to 50% of the total energy requirement of the building, anywhere in the country. This investment should come because of the rated building and should be 50 % of the building consumption.

LEED India CS Rating:

1 -35% RE onsite Engage in at least a 2-year renewable energy contract to provide at least 35% of the core & shell building’s electricity from renewable sources, as defined by the Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-e Energy product certification requirements. Supply a net fraction of the building’s total energy use (as expressed as a fraction of annual energy cost) through the use of on-site renewable energy systems. Use on-site renewable energy systems to offset at least 1% of the building energy costs. Substantiate the project’s compliance on this aspect by expressing the cost of energy produced through renewable sources as a percentage of the building’s total energy cost, annually.

Green Power Demonstrate that the company has installed green power equivalent to 50%of the total energy requirement of the building, anywhere in the country. This investment should come because of the rated building and should be 50 % of the building consumption.Estimate the energy needs of the building on annual basis. Install green power plants in the country, which meets the 100% of the total energy requirement of the building. Green power is derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, or low-impact hydro sources.

Green Homes Rating:

On site RE Install renewable energy systems for at least 5% of the total connected load of the building.

Green Township Rating:

On Site RE Install renewable energy systems to generate power through solar, wind, bio-mass, bio-gas, biodiesel or any other forms of renewable energy so that their installed capacity is at least 20% of the annual energy consumption in areas under the developer’s scope.

Green Power Demonstrate the project has invested in off-site green power for at least 50 % of the total annual consumption in areas under developer’s scope. Estimate the energy needs of the project on annual basis. Install off-site green power plants which meet at least 25 % of the total energy requirement of the project. Green power can be derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, or low impact hydro sources.

Green SEZ Rating :

On Site RE Install renewable energy systems to generate power through solar, wind, bio-mass/ bio-gas, or any other forms of renewable energy for at least 5% of the annual consumption (in  developer’s/ co-developer’s scope).

 Green Power Demonstrate the project has invested in off-site green power for at least 25% of the annual energy consumption in developer’s scope for at least 2 years. Estimate the energy needs of the building on annual basis. Install green power plants offsite which meet the 25 % of the total energy requirement of the building. Green power can be derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, small hydro power plants, etc.,

Green Co Rating :

 On Site RE both Electrical & Thermal To develop concrete action plan for increasing the share of renewable energy generation / utilization of the company. Install on-site renewable energy systems to generate electrical energy through solar, wind, biomass, bio-gas, bio-diesel, or any other forms of renewable energy and / or generation of thermal energy (expressed as an equivalent of electrical energy) to cater to the total energy requirement of the company. Availability of renewable energy resources is to be assessed and feasibility studies conducted before deciding on on-site installations. Green power can be sourced from solar, wind, bio-mass, bio-gas, bio-diesel or small hydro sources or any other accepted sources of renewable energy.

As one can see, the potential of bringing in RET was enshrined, it was only the crazy economics we all follow that makes RE unaffordable. Frankly I could never understand this business of applying RoI selectively. I have argued this in my earlier post in detail, so I will concentrate more on the Green Business Idea here.

English: PS20 and PS10 in Andalusia, Spain

In OPEX -SPV or operational expense on solar photo voltaic; the RESCO (renewable energy service company) is contemplating  to sell the power generated, directly to the client instead of routing it though the established Energy distribution companies as was mooted in the NVVM Scheme . Although the generation through SPV is still costly, the RESCO are looking at covering part of their expense via the REC Schemeand raise money through standard market driven investments. Hoping to breakeven through economy of scale. A bold move which needs to be lauded, yet treated with caution.

Lets now examine the advantages and pitfalls the model has.

OPEX Solar would create the economy of scale which any venture requires. This  I recommend, should happen by attempting to pick up the lowest hanging fruit. That is by becoming the Utility provider to the Green Buildings which are already registered in India. As shown above almost all the certification types require RE or Green Power. As the commitment is already made to build green and with the criteria already in place, the RESCO’s  effort remains only to do the math and give a viable PPA model.

As the rating covers almost all sectors the foot-print is huge. However, in each of the ratings there would be possibilities and problems unique to it.

Let us start with Green Homes –

Residences are the lowest hanging fruit. Already a firm  “Mera Gao Power” providing roof-top model at a very economical rate to rural India which the large power utilities find unfeasible. {Large Hydro dams and Thermal Power  plants are set up displacing 100’s of villages; that they find the very same villages resettled ( if at all ) beside it, to be too remote to be provided power with, is perhaps a unique Indian policy many of us with low intelligence find hard to understand.} However what has been the curse now can be a boon to the villages and RESCO’s especially the ones which can provide power in OPEX model. Simply because the Carbon Credit it would generate over and above the REC would not only make this system of business viable, it will create a resurgent India. Perhaps this can be done in other countries too.

Now what if this is brought into the residential blocks within town & cities?Many face power-outages during summer. It would work perfectly against the diesel abatement policy India has in place.  But if roof-top Solar is provided in OPEX model, the problem could be administrative. How would the RESCO collect the tariff, should a housing society not pay its utility bill on time, or a member fails to pay his/her utility bill ? Would the RESCO have the authority and immunity from harm / legal persecution the Municipal authorities have, to initiate disciplinary action? The same problem could be from commercial centres too.

Further, large housing societies need high amount of power, however the present solar PV modules have low plant efficiency thus require large amount of space and are heavy too. Therefore the required amount of power may not get generated via-roof top and off-site green power may be needed.

In this the problem is open access to the grid, which the state owned power utility companies find difficult both in business model and technically to provide. In some states like Gujrat it has been allowed, others are to follow soon.

The problem of electrical transmission over long distance is the “drop” it faces, ie., some power is lost in transit, due to simple laws of physics. Whereas this loss can be calculated and that much extra power fed at the supply end to compensate it in case of traditional power supply, for Solar PV it becomes a problem because currently the technology is dependent on Sunshine and therefore erratic to precisely pin down how much power would be generated per minute. This creates problem for evacuation and  steady stream of transmission. Perhaps when grid parity does take place, the investors could use the model devised by Gemasolar in Spain to store the extra  power and compensate the loss in transmission. Or other innovations would make this possible.

The other problem is should a RESCO sell a PPA model to a client which is off-site and wheels the power to the client, during planned load-shedding by the Municipal authority / State power company; the transmission would not happen. Banking that power is a economic solution but not technically sound because the client had agreed to the PPA ( power purchase agreement ) precisely to avoid power outages and avail the benefits of Diesel abatement.

Another issue is the time frame. Not many would like to sign a PPA of 25 years for roof-top models or even offsite because all business policies are dynamic in nature. Requirements change over time. Planing for 10 years can be done with reasonable permutation combinations, but not having flexibility for 25 years would be a non-starter for some sectors. Next, vintage of technology. No one would like especially when the investment is not theirs to be stuck with an asset which does not perform optimally with time. When I wrote another article on Solar PV, as how to make cheap solar power, I was just learning about OPEX solar, but some of the ideas given there could come to the rescue for OPEX solar.

Overall OPEX Solar model is here to stay and I already have plans to propagate it as much as possible to make this World a better place to live in.

Note: Courtesy to the owners of the images posted in this blog.

 

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Coal corporations helping India’s Clean tech aspirations is becoming successful – a model more nations need to follow.


Renewal Energy Distribution Companies find it so difficult to work and grow.The primary reason being denial of open access system by the power supplying companies the unquestioned rulers. The resistance is natural although national policy says in time open access must be allowed to level the playing field and bring grid parity. These companies have spent a lot of money and effort into developing the infrastructures and letting the new RE guys piggy-back on them is not something which sound business policy advocates. Yet, these powerful “Goliaths” would fall and the “RE Davids” would rise. Sustainable Energy requirements is the call of the hour.

For Humankind, the preservation of self is the most supreme and any event or cause which would stand in its way would have to perish. Today the desperation for survival of small island nations and mountain states, being mostly small in size and economic might; not really being heard by the mighty nations and the supporting fossil-fuel corporation. But as the effect of Climate change is being felt and the associated business risk gets recorded within the mighty nations, along-with more businesses understanding that their economic salvation lies in marketing and manufacturing ecologically sustainable products, the fossil fuel led lobby’s influence and foot-print is bound to shrink.

And no one can stand against the might of the collective. History has proved it time and again. And when an idea whose time has come also gets the support of the powerful United Nations, crony capitalism and narrow national interest will lose. It is the writing on the wall.

But Indian ethos teaches compassion. Those who have provided energy to the world for the last 300 years must not be thrown out unceremoniously but shown the light. Just as it is difficult and confusing for a one mighty ruler to accept defeat and face uncertainty, so is the case of these Energy Czars. Redundancy is not a polite word.

So India has devised a way out. The solution although complex, the logic is simple – channel the oil / coal profit into R&D of Renewable Energy solutions.This is the reason why in India we have the NVVN .  In Mumbai, India; BEST ( Birhan mumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking ) draws 10% of its Electrical power for supply from RE as mandated for development & support of RE.Such mandate is more or less followed by all states.

Moreover, no one imagines that in the next 50 years, oil / coal would vanish from our economy. While its use begins to diminish ( hopefully ) it would be wise for the companies to diversify and invest from now into the clean-tech. And in the present economic situation, buying could be cheap.Further they should help in easing the entry of roof-top solar / wind in the immediate future. This would free up their power for industrial use, while residential, school & malls could draw their power from the RE industry.

A win-win situation for all. Hope the model is adopted by Nations sooner than later.

 

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Renewable Energy is viable..period.


The preamble

The power of raw sunshine at midday on a cloudless day is 1000 W per  square meter. We can turn this raw power into useful power in four ways:

1. Solar thermal: using the sunshine for direct heating of buildings or water.

2. Solar photovoltaic: generating electricity.

3. Solar biomass: using trees, bacteria, algae, corn, soy beans, or oilseed to make energy fuels, chemicals, or building materials.

4. Food: the same as solar biomass, except we shovel the plants into humans or other animals.

David JC MacKay

With the run-up to Rio+20 Summit and the UNEP driven Future Cities program the use of RE especially Solar becomes more and more important.

With the tremendous pressure all Nations are facing over Environmental Impacts from their citizens, who are getting more and more aware about the disasters non-sustainable living; Bangkok would be a very recent example; RE in all form would have to be accepted and assimilated main-stream. Let there be no confusion that the Economy of the world are driven by three basic needs from time immemorial – Food, Clothing & Shelter. I will deal separately the issues of Energy -Water in detail later.

Food – Requires energy, from plantation to processing to cooking.

Clothing – Textile industry are considered one of the high energy usage sector.

Shelter – About 40% of GHG (green house gas) comes from building related activities.

In many countries Sustainable Building design have been adopted in form of BREEAM, LEED, IGBC etc. Nations have committed to the UNFCCC agenda of keeping the world temperature from rising another 2°c. All that requires tremendous dedicated effort from all sectors.

And most importantly, busting the myth of negative Return on Investment (RoI) put forward by the fossil fuel industry.

The Argument

In my opinion, if the home I live in sinks under the sea because I refused to pay a little more now to avail RE sources for my energy needs over coal/oil, I don’t think myself much of an economist.

An economist is a person who plans for the welfare of generations to come, albeit his own. Given the fuel lobbyist are pandering to this very self agenda, however there is a small flaw – their path would just sink the landmass; not much of an economic playing field will be then left, for the future generation !

Having said that, let’s see if we can still make a case of RoI with using RE in its present economic form. Today the cost of generation of power is “compared to” the cost of generation of power via fossil fuel. This in itself is a flawed argument. As I’m not an economist, my examples would be simple. Also I would perhaps not be 100% accurate in my assessment.

Now to begin with my theory – Fossil fuel has been used as a primary source of energy since man learned to control fire; however it was during the industrial revolution with the advent of steam engine did the consumption of fossil fuel jump exponentially. But if documents are researched, energy from fossil fuel driven carts would not have been cheaper than horse driven carriages in the then predominantly agrarian era. Neither was flying over ship when its time came!

It was only by economy of scale that these things became “cheaper”. Also because they became popular, flying though costlier than travel by ship saved time, thus the merchant could do more business within the allotted time, than waste more of it via land/sea travel. So even if flying (even today) is costlier than sea/land travel, the business person calculates his RoI in the form of time saved! Now if for some reason the venture fails, then the RoI becomes bad. So for a successful business person air-travel is good RoI and for the other bad! So in lay-man terms RoI is a subjective matter. It depends on what is the datum of your argument. I have as yet to see any person who buys a fuel guzzling car ever calculate RoI. Therefore RoI is a concept which needs to be researched better.

Further warming up to this argument, how does one say that the cost of generation from Thermal power is cheaper than Renewable Energy? Does it factor in the destruction – ecological, social & physical (pollution leads to host of diseases)? Moreover, it can but consumed only once. You burn the coal or oil, it would not come back to you, and you can’t replenish it via any natural process. It can be argued that the paradigm of Business is different from literally logic which perhaps is what I’m professing. However with “Eurocracy” in serious danger perhaps all business models need to be restructured.

The Solution

Now, having vented my exasperation on the fossil fuel lobby’s clever wining technique, let us dwell on the subject of improving the reach of Sustainable energy production. Just as any new technology in its infancy faces teething trouble, so is the RE industry.

Amongst all, Solar is the most promising and perhaps therefore faces most challenges. Its plant efficiency factor is very low, it uses large surface area and the present technique of trapping the solar rays are perhaps cumbersome. But given dedicated research and analysis, it is perhaps the best bet. Because there are two things one can bet his last dollar on, the Sunshine and the Breeze. As long as the Earth is there these two would be available for sure.( so would geothermal & wave, but that’s another story) Having understood that, what can we do to make this industry stand on its own? For that we would need changes in mass thinking. Once that is achieved the political class would seal the deal.

To change the mass thinking we need to bring RE into their everyday lives. In India we have the Prime Minister driven Nation Action Plan on Climate Change. Through these the Government is trying to make at first the 9 Industry sectors energy efficient. However the Building Industry is untouched at the moment. Even then if amongst the 9 sectors (Aluminum; Cement; Chlor-alkali; Fertilizer; Iron & Steel; Pulp& Paper; Power; Textile & Railways) have role of the Building industry; as each need their HQ and other Administrative blocks for operations.

 If 10% of energy use for these industries on their above mentioned assets is made mandatory along with offsetting another 5% of energy use by their respective employees residence, we will begin with a massive program, which will truly bring in the scale required to make RE viable. Most importantly, it would act as a compromise. A compromise between the Government who would want NMEEE and PAT to be viable as soon as possible and the said Industrial sectors which is putting forth their argument of the trails & tribulations.

India should lead the SAARC nations in providing  Solar -RE for its rural and most importantly Tier-II, III & IV towns and cities. This is because, availability of roof-top to pattern of consumption; is complementary to each-other. That is, most of the residential buildings are single owner 1-3 storied buildings with ample roof and land area. Along with it the residents are yet to be “spoilt” by the crass consumerist life-style which the mega-cities of India have taken to, in its quest to become more “western”. They by default consume less energy and this itself becomes an advantage to put small systems on their roof-tops to amply fulfill their energy needs.

Already most countries are familiar with “Green Building” concepts through LEED / GRIHA / BREEAM etc. Energy efficiency is becoming important to sustainable living and the concept of “Green Power” is getting introduced by these rating systems. Here too through local legislation or voluntary CSR 25% of a residential complex (min 100 flats) power needs could be through Solar PV. This would translate to the power consumed by the lift, gate/boundary lights and other common space lighting. Though the need for space to power the demand may not get fulfilled by the roof-tops alone, innovative and practical ideas are available! In sustainable terms if say each & every society of say, a city like Mumbai, more importantly the affluent districts in the city adopt the Solar roof-top solution the State of Maharashtra can better manage its Energy problems.

Translate this concept to New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore or Hyderabad and we can already see RoI of solar extremely practical.

Perhaps it can also inspire other countries to love Ra – the Sun God, as Civilization did when it began its journey!

 

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Green Business Ideas :Costal RE is the answer for Shipping Co’s to save on Bunker Fuel tax.


Fifty-five major European airports accounting for over half of all passenger traffic on the continent are now part of a program aimed at cutting carbon emissions, Airports Council International said Tuesday. Airports are changing airport vehicles and buses to electric or hybrid power, and installing solar panels to generate the airport’s own electricity, among other measures. Specific taxiing techniques are used to reduce fuel burn, and ground power is provided to parked airliners instead of having them leave their engines running.

A super initiative. This is how Business must be conducted. Reviving the Economy by producing jobs where there was none.  The last part of the paragraph ….ground power is provided to parked airliners … was what made me sit up and think. As I have confessed earlier, I can not invent the wheel, its for the gifted to invent. But I do get inspired to think…of a green business idea ! Would these Solar Panels be portable ? What would the plug and play system design be? How do you power those Airplanes which may not get docked near the Hub but put at the far end of the tarmac, in full capacity airports ? How do you account for drop in transmission? Or would it not be a super idea for smaller airports too around the World? Would this create jobs for smart engineers who are perhaps jobless now.  Whatever be the economic situation  in Europe or America,  unlike in India, they still have the best of invention and also the facility for growth and encouragement of new ideas (which is the reason of its success for so long) can not be denied.  And the future of newer versions of RE would also come from those who most need it.  For, Climate change would affect economies which are more developed than those which aren’t, simply because a flood, tornado or fire can not destroy property or business which has not been built!

It is imperative that USA & Europe survives the Economic stress it is going through. It is good for them it is good for us. For no Country is insular in this century. Every Nations economy is interdependent to another, one way or the other. And therefore Green Business Ideas, which may perhaps help those who are already capable but not focused, must be provided by those who can. For what good is an idea when it is not used? And no one can be an expert in all domains to implement. But many may have different ideas in various domains. Having said that let us re-explore the Renewable Energy we can harness from coastal power, while focusing on the news item pasted above.

Coastal Power is  being funded in the School of Physics and Astronomy, the University of Edinburgh by the Scottish Government. Palamis, as you would be able to see in the video  has devised a beautiful idea. An idea which needs to be instantly PROMOTED !!

Nissan’s Solar Panel-Covered Ship was already a super idea, but not all ships can have that much space, nor does the Sun shine bright and clear 24 x 7. So one can think of further innovation.  Imagine large container ships, towing in its wake a similar contraption as created by Palamis. Attach on to that another contraption, the floating solar panels, which I have shown in my article ( Green Business Ideas: Solar on Water,Wind to power Ships while Geothermal beats recession away – Future RE ) and I improve on the idea of the wind RE here. Lets add one as a mast to the ship ! A V-WAT obviously. For vertical wind axis turbine would be more practical and it would spin as the ship moves forward. All ships while moving also create a wake, and the wave RE can generate power, while when anchored off-shore in still waters, it can splay out the floating solar panels to cover a larger surface area and generate the power required.

While all Ships entering Europe would be taxed on CO2e emission on the bunker fuel, the Shipping businesses could limit that tax by simply producing some RE power ! Moreover as this idea takes root, even the luxury yachts, anchored in various marinas can be asked to adopt to RE power, while docked. Perhaps European Climate Foundation CEO, Jules Korenhorst, who spoke about bunker fuel tax way back in 2009 could see some practical idea in what I am proposing.

Who knows perhaps we would see this idea adopted and adapted before the next Cannes Film Festival by the Rich & the Famous.

 

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Green Business Ideas: Solar,Wind power Ships while Geothermal beats recession away – Future RE


It is cold, freezing deadly cold in Europe. There is death. Both reported human deaths and others which go mostly unreported. Ask that to the farmer whose live-stock may have also suffered and the animal lovers, they too would have a story to tell. In a report, I read that some western European and former East block countries are not getting enough Gas from Russia. While we must honor business treaty and longterm business collaborations, we must also understand that traditional sources of Energy must be re-looked  and the potential for all types of alternate Energy must be vetted. Form this vetting the one that is the most practical must be given precedence over the rest, world wide. This is the only way to avoid the discomfort EU faces due to the shortage of energy in this harsh winter.

 I would like my readers to pause at the Alternate Energy  which may be different form Renewable Energy. To my mind man has yet to devise a system which can perfectly ape the Earth Ecosystem in Generating Energy in a T-ZED form. ( Total Zero Emission Design). For every activity we partake there would be some thing that needs to be – MINED – EXTRACTED – CUT  out form the Natural system. We have not yet become that “advanced” as the advanced Nations like people to believe.

Having said that, we must now see which among the alternate energy sources we can get the maximum, within the constrains of resources we have, be it – technological, social, political or combination of all. Solar, my beloved is yet a baby which needs to catch-up to its big brother wind, who is having the adolescent problems of its own in various countries. Micro – hydle although better than its father the large Hydle dams in mobility and not as cruel to devastate large Eco-systems by sinking them; is too weak to power cities. The logistics of Bio-gas is another story, therefore it can have regional success in mid-size generation. Wave technology has not yet caught on.

So while we wait for Solar to take its place under the Sun, which no doubt it would and even avoid eating up large swats of land by just floating on water, while keeping in mind to allow sunlight down below; and compliment Wind turbine which line the Oceans along the sea faring route, in large floats which allow ships to charge up their dynamos from one point to the next, thus limiting the use and carriage of bunker fuel; especially when they enter territorial waters form the Blue Seas. In fact these floating Wind turbines could act as buoys / light-houses too and being closer to shore more easy to maintain, while avoiding the socio-political problems it faces on land, we must at the UNFCCC level hail Geo-thermal as the Messiah for now.

Low temperature geothermal applications include space heating and in agricultural uses (greenhouse heating, the drying of fruits and vegetables, aquaculture and seawater desalination, and in spas), providing an ideal synergy with other widespread commercial ventures. As technological advances allow for the exploitation of lower temperature geothermal resources, found at just a few meters below the ground surface, the heating and cooling of water for domestic use, for instance, becomes highly viable and attractive. Such applications lessen reliance of non-RE resources, are highly reliable and cost effective, and emit far less carbon dioxide. Advantages of investing in Geothermal are many as there are a  wealth of geothermal resources around the World. This can provide emerging markets with substantial entry-stage opportunities due to wide variety of synergistic applications.

 And Messiah it could very well be for Greece. All the Greeks need to do is look towards  Santorini. It is the most famous volcano in Greece. The most recent volcanic eruption in Greece was Santorini in 1950. Greece has 752 hot springs which are popular tourist destinations.   Greece lies in a geographic position that is favorable to geothermal resources, both high temperature and low temperature. High temperature resources, suitable for power generation coupled with heating and cooling, are found at depths of 1-2 kilometres on the Aegean islands of Milos, Santorini, and Nisyros. Other locations that are promising at depths of 2-3 kilomteres are on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, and Samothraki as well as the basins of Central-Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.  Low temperature geothermal resources are found at the plains of Macedonia-Thrace and in the vicinity of each of the 56 hot springs found in Greece. These areas include Loutra-Samothrakis, Lesvos, Chios, Alexandroupolis, Serres, Thermopyles, Chalkidiki, and many others.

Geothermal power – the energy derived from stores of superheated water and steam in seismically-active areas – could, according to geologists, offer a realistic alternative to fossil fuels in the production of electricity and position the country as a regional leader in what is a growing global market.  According to an energy profile of Greece in a US Commercial Service report, there are up to 2,000MW of electrical output available from ‘high temperature fields’ across the country.

By the end of 2007 the installed thermal capacity of the direct geothermal uses in Greece amounted to roughly 75 MWt. Despite the large high-enthalpy resources in the active Aegean volcanic arc ,no electric power is produced from geothermal resources in Greece.  With  the existence of 30 geothermal fields in Greece – two of them sizable enough to produce at least 250MW of uninterrupted electrical power, Greece can not only pay its way out of the Economic crisis but also show the way to the EU Nations on how they could   meets its Kyoto Protocol and EU targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

The above story is also true for India, which does not even exploit its easily available recourses.  In fact Mumbai is practically sitting on it. Should the State Government of Maharashtra seriously consider the use and application of geothermal lying under utilized it could use the applications of geothermal energy, which  vary according to their temperature and include:

Power generation(θ>90 °C)

 Space heating (with radiators, θ>60 °C, fan-coils, θ>40 °C, floor heating systems, θ>25 °C)

 Refrigeration and air conditioning (using absorption heat pumps, θ>60 °C, or with water-cooled heat pumps, θ<30 °C)

 Heating greenhouses and soil because plants grow more quickly and become bigger with heat (θ>25 °C), and for protection from frost.

 Aquaculture (θ>15 °C) because fish need a specific temperature to grow.

 Industrial applications such as desalination of seawater (θ>60 °C), drying agricultural products, etc.

 Thermal spas (θ = 25-40 °C)

Besides geothermal fields, with today’s technology, heat from rock at a shallow depth, as well as low temperature underground or surface water can be used for heating and air conditioning.  Hot dry rock, which is found everywhere at depths between 3 and 5 kilometers, by artificial water circulation through it at a temperature of up to 150 °C . If the cost of energy is calculated over the life cycle of the system, geothermal heat pumps cost less than a system which consumes oil or natural gas.

Geothermal energy should be exploited in India where using Nuclear Energy is meeting with stiff social resistance, especially after the Fukushima daiichi incident in Japan . Moreover, it has been proved beyond doubt by the experts of Geo-thermal in India that setting up a plant would cost far less than that of Nuclear and produce more and safer energy.

The other advantage it could have over coal based thermal or large hydle generated power is its “portability”. The size of a Geo-thermal plant compared to the above two would be very small – generation capacity wise. Moreover it would neither flood vast areas causing socio-economic upheaval nor produce fly-ash a dangerous polluter. The only thing it emits is water vapor. However, in some certain trace gases are found which can be easily treated.

This portability has a very great business advantage, which perhaps power companies have overlooked. It is a fact that energy generation and distribution in India is far costly than the tariff applied.  Typically, domestic (24% of total power supply uptake) and agricultural (22%) enjoy cross subsidies from industrial (38%) and commercial (16%) users. Industrial and commercial users still pay 30-60% above average power price. Therefore if Geo-thermal plants are placed close to the industrial & commercial areas by the Private power companies, they would be able to evacuate and distribute power at a far cheaper cost, which would be beneficial to both.

 

 

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Renewable Energy – Formula for Cheaper Hospital bills and Cleaner Air


Hospitals require enormous amount of energy to run. No hospital which take care of critical illness can have even for a moment not have power supply .  So  the light bulbs, fans and small exhaust and most importantly those plug points holding the mobile chargers. Yes! the Mobile charger, though individually does not amount too much power load, when multiplied a few 1000 times it matters! And trust me no ward waiting upon a patient  in the hospital wants his Mobile battery to be out of charge! These along with Computers care clubbed into the LDP, while the Air-conditioners, Di-humidifiers and filtration plants along with hot-water boilers is connected to the HDP. In engineering terms used in my country we say LDP & HDP ( light and heavy-duty power  ). And above all the breathing apparatus, operation theater machinery are  critical activities that can’t be stopped even for a Milli second. Therefore hospitals are designed with huge diesel generators for back up power.

Diesel generators ( even the “greenest” one ) belch fumes and make noise. What could be more ironical than Health Care which is supposedly to remove pollution ( as all disease can be termed ) form the Human body is perhaps inadvertently becoming party to Climate Change. This I’m sure no self-respecting and thinking Health care professional anywhere  around the World would want.

Renewable Energy can be the Messiah  for this, yet it is too costly today for all well-meaning Health Care institute to afford. And Government subsidy is not the answer. Because subsidy is not sustainable unless it has a practical back-up plan. So what can be done ? The answer in my humble opinion is simple. Take it to the people.

Everyday there are thousands of patients who visit hospitals and are cured of their malaise; thankful for a new lease of renewed life many donate to charity, some donate to the hospital. If this simple idea is taken forward and ( with a clear and transparent with proper accountability – especially for India ) each patient were to be asked to donate say between 1% to 10% of the total Hospital fee as Renewable Energy Cess, within a span of say 5 years almost all Health Care Units would perhaps become near self-sufficient in their daily requirement of Energy.

And why would the public pay up ? Simple again, convert each persons donation  into some kind of equity, so every time s/he visits and pays the RE cess, s/he becomes a partner to the energy plant. Now as the energy plant would reduce the overall energy bill the hospital pays over time, an expense it passes on to its consumer ( read patient ) the patient should benefit through a rebate on his/her bills! It’s a win-win situation for all. And it could be  modeled on other service industries too !

The State/Country benefits; the consumer & hospital benefits and most important  the Earth Breaths a little better !

True the problem of space for installing Renewable Energy Plant near the Hospitals may not be possible to solve at most time, this is where the Government subsidy should focus. To wheel in the power created by the RE power plants afar, through its established Grid and not charge the hospitals for it.

It would be also freeing up the traditional Grid power supply and thus create a ‘surplus’ for the Government to supply power to other areas and help Emerging Nations to develop further and for Developed Nations the idea could help in reducing their GHG emissions.

 

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